As we prepare for a new year and a new decade, a goal we should each have is to know God better. If we know God better, we should be better equipped to love Him more and to live accordingly (live in, not of – fotonni). Thus, for these last three weeks of the year, I am going to repost a short series from 2017 about knowing God.
This post first appeared on this blog’s former site fotonni.blogspot.com on December 7, 2017.
One of my goals this year was to read one book per week. I am slightly behind pace (although if you count a few books I finished for other purposes, I have met the goal). My list includes several leadership books (Christian and otherwise), biographies (Christian and otherwise), history (several related to events and people around the American Revolution), baseball (past stories and concepts on how the game is changing), several Christian Classics such as The Imitation of Christ, Paradise Lost, etc., as well as others on topics such as personal productivity. Additionally, I am seeking to complete reading the Bible again. The exercise in reading has been good for me this year, but I need to take another approach next year.
One book I recently finished was The Mortification of Sin by John Owen. This book, and several others, has been a part of an emphasis I have led at our church to read some Christian Classics this year as we marked the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. I have been familiar with this book for years, but like many of the others our group read this year, I had not read it yet. The book was convicting in a few specific ways, but perhaps the most important reminder it provided was how little I know my God.
For several years, I have made the comment (teaching, preaching, etc.) that God is so infinite that even after “we’ve been there ten thousand years” (to quote Amazing Grace) we will still not have exhausted all we can know about God – and we never will for all of eternity. I believe that. However, as Owen painted the picture of God, I received a fresh perspective on this very idea.
I don’t mean to say that I know nothing about God. Nor will I pretend that I know nothing about the Bible which provides us with an opportunity to know about God, which, in turn, can lead us to better know God. But as important as the Bible is (and it is!!!), it paints only a part of the picture. And, the truth is, even if someone knows the Bible perfectly, their knowledge of God is only slightly greater than the person who knows nothing about God.
Think of it this way. If Person A knows 10 facts from the Bible (not just God, let me expand to the full Bible – as it is God’s written Word), and Person B knows one thing about the Bible (the word God – I must have one fact to make the calculations possible), then person A knows 10 times as much. Person C knows 100 facts from the Bible, so this person knows 10 times more than Person A. Person D knows 25 facts from the Bible. A graph of this scenario, based upon the most facts known, would look like this:
Let us remember that this graph is based upon facts known from the Bible. Again, that is important, but our goal is ultimately to know God. So, let us transition our thinking to the next level and stipulate that these facts are specifically about God. With that established, let us now remember my statement from earlier that we can never know all of God – we cannot know everything about God (facts), nor can we know or all of who He is. For the sake of argument, however, we must use a number. So, let us add three more markings to our graph. Person E knows 1000 facts. Person F knows 1 million. And the grand total to be known about God is 1 billion. (Again, this number is presented just for the sake of argument, the fullness of God is immeasurable and unknowable.) With these three additions, notice how the graph looks now:
What we see is that each number on this graph when compared against a billion facts is unseen. My point, and Owen’s point, is that even if we know a great deal more than some others, we know nothing in comparison to what is available (not what is possible, for we can never know all – remember God is infinite).
This idea should be humbling to all of us. I have a doctorate in ministry, so I may know more about the Bible than some, even most, but it does not mean that I have a mastery of knowledge about God. More importantly, it does not mean that I know God better than anyone. Yet, God is my Father, and wants me to know Him intimately. And He wants the same for you. Knowing God, not just knowing about Him, should be our aim – and that will be the focus of next week’s post.